Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 38: more slab preparation

I didnt go to the site today, but Tina drove by to find a little more work had been done in the morning.

Not much really, smoothing out the soil, laying a bit of gravel or something, but every little bit of work that's done is a bit of work towards getting the house finished!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 36, and...

..and, well nothing really. Tradies took a long weekend off, so no work done Monday or today. MyMetricon still says "slab started 3.2.10", so we're hoping to see a bit of activity in preparation for the slab works.

Anyway, we're housesitting for my aunt in Camberwell while they're on holidays, so we've been having a wonderful time in their 65sq+ mansion, which was built by my other uncle who is a custom builder. Here's some pics with commentary - things you might consider including in your new home build (or not?)



3m ceilings ground and first floor, various drop bulkheads, custom laid parquetry, elaborate skirtings and cornices. The columns (and curtains) are pretty traditional, but suit this style of house (French Provincial). We've been staying in the guest room, and it's just too huge - just about bigger than the master suite we're building! I'm liking the king size bed though, trying to talk Tina into a new king bed for the new house!


Nice big open plan casual dining and family room, with big paved and decked outdoor areas. Gas fire under the tv. Except I can't figure out how to open the timber bifolds - I don't have the key! One minor commentary about this huge house - I figure the distance from the master bedroom is about 20m along the hallway, down a flight of stairs, and another 10m to the kitchen - that's quite a walk!


And finally, my favourite room - a totally decked out home theatre room, C-Bus automation including lighting and blinds, a sparkly ceiling, top of the line equipment - I've been watching 1-2 movies a day after work in here! My only criticism is that the screen could be a bit bigger.

Staying in this first class house is a bit risky, as it raises expectations a little! But our house will be our house, and nothing can top that! We also went to Highpoint to watch Avatar the other day (overhyped much?), and there's a Natuzzi furniture place there and it had some great sofas there, but with huge Italian pricetags to match - $5000 for a two seater recliner?? If anyone has any recommendations for good, well-built modern furniture at reasonable prices, please let us know! I like slimline, sleek, modern furniture - some of the usual "3 seater + 2 recliner" packages out there are comfortable enough, but just look too huge and puffy!

*sigh* is it too much to ask for building to continue 24 hours a day on our house? I always thought we'd be pretty laid back about the build time - but now impatience is starting to win through!

T&T

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Miscellaneous Metricon developments

There's a massive Metricon house going up on Doncaster Rd, between Greythorn Rd & Balwyn Rd - you can hardly miss it as there's a big banner advertising "Metricon Building in your Neighbourhood" across the whole block. Looks like bricking is nearly completed.

From what we can tell, they're using Austral 50mm Hawthorn to the facade and 76mm Hawthorn to the rest of the house (what we were going to do to our Nolan as well). Double plus a single garage (damn I envy a wide block!), timber windows. Not sure what house design this is, but someone with more time than me can check all the facades on the website - I think the three sets of timber doors to the first floor is probably the giveaway. I suspect this will be a Metricon display home for a while, as it's on a good exposure location.

Now, we also had a look at the other Metricon house being started near us in Blackburn the other day - this pic below shows one thing they have, that we don't have (or need) - a temporary power pole. Here's a handy hint for all you other people considering redeveloping your site - organise an underground powerpit yourself, and do it as soon as you can!



The reason you should organise your own powerpit is all about money. If you don't organise it yourself, Metricon will organise it for you (at extra cost) and you'll probably have to get a temporary powerpole anyway (for about $1000) as the powerpit takes quite a few weeks to be done. If you get the powerpit organised and installed well before site start, you'll save a few thousand dollars, which is always nice! We also elected for a three phase powerpit, even though we don't need it now, three phase is only about $100 more than two phase power. Maybe in future we'll all be using electric cars that charge quicker/better on 3 phase, or you might want a massive AC unit that requires 3 phase.


Finally, we saw this sign in front of an old house on Balwyn Rd. The picture is of the Metricon Imperial display home on Belmore road. The idea here, is that a potential purchaser buys the finished product - ie the Imperial or similar design, but only pays stamp duty on the existing house/land value. I was trying to work out in my head how it would go down - I'm thinking one standard contract of sale for house & land - let's say for $650k, with government stamp duty calculated on that amount - plus an additional seperate contract for $x, which would cover the final house. The nice thing about this deal for the developer is that you have a guaranteed buyer at the completion of the house, plus depending on how the deal is structured, financing the build is entirely covered - no interest to the bank, plus a handy profit. Redevelopment project are going on all over this area of Balwyn - the difficulty is finding suitable redevelopment sites at a financially viable price, while funding is a secondary problem (yet not as difficult as finding the site!). Anyway, we'd love to get into development, but I think we'll wait until the house is a little more completed!

Had a big night out with the boys playing poker last night, so today we'll go past our site to see if anything was done yesterday (doubtful). Checking on MyMetricon - our slab commencement date has been postponed again to Feb 3rd; most likely because of the short week due to Australia Day. I checked out the leaked result of JJJ Hottest 100, and the top song sucks!

sloke: thanks for advice re water meter; but I'm not sure why I'd even get my meter taken away? Wouldn't M be using it for the duration of the build?

caroline: the neighbours opposite us built a lovely custom house 2 years ago, as their old house burned to the ground after a kitchen fault! yep, insurance is a must!

T&T

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 31: Plumbing complete

Had a quiet day at work today - we went to the Glenville display house on Bourke Rd Balwyn to have a stickybeak, but it was shut, so we went to our site - yay, some more action on the ground!


Got some gravelly type stuff at the front (roughly where the future driveway will be) and a bunch of pipes sticking out of the ground - I reckon these are mostly stormwater pipes, judging from their location. Probably a few pipes for sewerage too (the ones located "within" the future slab). My aunt gave us a call to say she drove by at about 2pm, and they were packing up the bulldozer onto trucks, so they probably started early today as all tradespeople do.


This pic alongside the fence; there won't be any slab here (approx 3m gap between the house and the fence, you can see two smaller stormwater pipes which mark the edge of the house halfway up the photo) so I'm not sure what the gravel here is for - any ideas? Also this big pipe at the bottom of the picture is not located anywhere near the slab, so maybe it's for general drainage or something?

We also found a invoice letter in the rubbish cage, and it listed another property in Blackburn that was having pipes delivered - we went there, and sure enough, near Blackburn Lake is another Metricon house going up, but they're about a week ahead of us going by the date on the invoice. Interesting how many Metricon houses are currently being built or recently finished in our area - I know of at least 7 others in the whitehorse area now!

And to go to our regular "feedback" section of blog posting where we reply to comments left on the previous post (which we quite enjoy, everyone feel free to comment on any post!)

sarahV: yep, you were right about the trench, there's 2 trenches connecting the outdoor room pillar to the rest of the slab area. Plus I've also had a look at the floating floor youtube vids too :) I've also had a play with the floating floor samples at Bunnings, seems easy enough to DIY, so I reckon we'll give it a go ourselves! Tina likes a very dark/black style of wood floor which isn't generally available in a hardwood floor, so we may end up looking at laminate flooring to get the right look - also will have a look at bamboo and vinyl plank timber look, which is apparently very good nowadays.

sean: I think the reason M give a contract time of 370 days is to avoid any possibility of them having to pay late fees; there's been another Nolan built a few streets away from us, and it was fully complete in about 7 months. We'd be plenty happy if our house was ready by August/September (best case scenario?) and worst case scenario - we're still in before xmas 2010 :). So, while M probably estimate they can finish this house in 8 months, they'll quote 12 months just to make sure they're not in a position to pay $250/week late fees!

julian: We used Gravity Demolition. Price was good, though there was about a week's delay in demolition from the date quoted, and some damage to council property which we ended up further out of pocket for, so I'm not giving them a 100% recommendation. After the demolition is done, M will send a "pre planner" to assess the site which can take 1-2 weeks, and they will check that everything is ready to commence. In our case, we had to get the neighbour's phone line shifted as it was overhanging our block of land which delayed starting by about a week. After this was done, the site was scraped about a week later.

I doubt there will be much activity over this long weekend (how come I have to work Monday?) but have saved up some other relevant pics which I'll post up during this time!

T&T

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 29: Concrete piers completed

No work done these last few days, but this afternoon we found a big mound of this...


which was probably used in the construction of these things...


Yup, we've been piered! A whole bunch of concrete piers drilled down into the earth, to help stabilise the soil under the slab.

Plus a small little trench dug in the back end of the slab, I'm thinking for stormwater piping?



Hopefully this means things are on track for a slab on the 28th, so we're hoping for more piping work to be done between now and then.

Also contacted our new CSC who forwarded us the official "site start" letter. Apparently our contract completion date is Dec 29, 2010. We're hoping to be in many months earlier!

And to reply to some earlier blog comments...

SarahV: we haven't fully decided on our flooring yet, but will probably be carpet to upstairs & HT room, with timber floors or laminate flooring to the rest of downstairs. We're happy enough to go with quad edging, there are "transitional" pieces available to connect between timber floors to tiles or carpet, or any other flooring of different height. Flooring can be done after handover without too much problems, and we won't do it immediately anyway as $$$ might be starting to get a little tight!

If you want the flooring installed without quad, maybe ask your SS to have the skirting painted but not fitted, may make things easier for flooring after?

B&T: check the links on the side of this blog, as there should be a link to the "metricon universal info" page on homeone that I started, should have more prices on electrical items there too! Also don't forget that if you're building a single storey house, it's relatively easy to wire in speakers through the walls after handover, slightly more difficult if you're building a double storey house with a room above. I've been trying to settle on my HT room design for ages now, I'll probably get a rebuild of the HT room after handover anyway to get it the way I like!

T&T

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 26? Meter box and pegout.

Got back from NZ last night, drove by the site this afternoon (Sunday) - found out that we now have a meter box erected and connected to the underground powerpit, as well as a whole bunch of pegs outlining where the slab will go - I think?



So it looks like hopefully we'll be getting some preparation work done this week and maybe a slab next week!

Also got a letter from Metricon - we have a new construction CSC now... perhaps the other one left? No big deal. Also a letter from our neighbour about replacing the rotten rear fence - while we were in NZ she had a sundeck erected over her rear deck, you can just see it in the above photo - and the rear section of fence is just rotten and vine infested. The quote is for about $1300, I had an earlier quote of about $1000 but after many calls to the fencer he never got back to giving me a written quote, so I'll give him one more shot - otherwise we'll just go with the quote from the neighbour.

B&T: Most builders won't allow non-builder tradespeople on site, from what I've heard. Even if you get flooring done through M, they fix the skirting, lay flooring (eg timber floor) and add quad to cover expansion gaps, I don't think they hide expansion gaps with skirting - certainly in all their display homes timber floors have quad. You could always ask for M to not fix the skirting in place if you really don't want quad on a floating floor? They'll also email you an electrical document before the electrical appointment with prices and pics of the fittings available so you can plan your electrical layout, best to start working on that now!

T&T

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still in New Zealand!

Yeah, we're not back in Australia yet, but enjoying the wonderful scenery and activities in NZ. We boated around the Bay of Islands with heaps of dolphins, did some parasailing above Paihia, smelt the smelly stuff in Rotorua etc etc.

Right now in Taupo with a bit of downtime, sitting in a very slow internet place next to Lake Taupo with a view of Mt Ruapehu in the background - fantastic! Checked MyMetricon and apparently our "Base Commenced" item is due on 28.1.2010. Not sure what this means - is this the start of plumbing etc for the base, or the day of the actual base pour? I think the tradies are meant to be on site next week, so we'll find out then.

Also, for those who keep a check on the Metricon website, looks like there's a new promotion out - the "Allure" for $4950. It's a pretty good deal, as one of the inclusions is a 4 panel timber bifold worth a fortune (we got a timber bipart in our promo) and big door handle to the entry door (which cost us $450 or so). Other things which are different to our promo is a small carpet allowance, ceasarstone to laundry and all the other wet area benches, tiles bases to all showers. Basically, what I've found is that this is the third different promo package since we signed up to Metricon - there's ALWAYS a promo package available, and they seem to get a tiny bit more expensive each time (about $500 more every 6 months) but they do include some pretty good things, definitely worth more than the small price increase. You'd be mad not to get one of these promo packages if you're signing up now with M!


Of course there's a catch, you can only get this promo if you leave your deposit after 9.1.2010. I would have loved to have had this promo at the time we signed up to our house, but that's life!

We're back in Australia this Saturday night, and housesitting an almost-new mansion in
Camberwell from Sunday - ahhh, that's the life!

Renee&Tom; had a look at your blog - we (I mean - I) wanted Zinc bricks too, but they do cost $$$! If you get the brick list from Austral, there should be a few in Glen Waverly, and there was one by Hometec with zinc bricks, looks fantastic! Also the Hometec display in Lyndhurst also use Zinc to very good effect. I'm jealous... but then again, love our Hawthorn bricks!

And finally, no pictures of house, but here's a pic of me coming down to earth after jumping out of a plane at 15000ft over Lake Taupo. highly recommended!!








Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Facades, and prewiring a new house

No work on the site today - we got a call from our old CSC Mendo yesterday saying the work won't recommence until end of next week at earliest, but hoping to have a slab down by end of January.

We've managed to spy a few Metricon designs in the inner suburbs while driving around, but of course you're much more likely to see builder's homes in the estates. While we were at Keysborough, spotted two double storey Metricon houses with the Manor facade. So... let's talk facades and street appeal for a moment!


This one has a kind of red/orange brick, perhaps something like Austral Cotham? Note that with Manor/Traditional style facades, you typically don't get much (or anything) in the way of eaves - mainly because these style of houses are better without eaves. For example, Georgian style houses look the best with flat roofs or very low pitch setback rooflines.

Also note the facade window treatments for this facade, square-ish mouldings in a contrasting colour to the brickwork. Columns to the portico - well, it's a matter of taste whether you like them or not - I think they suit the facade quite well. The minimal balcony is probably sufficient - we've got a much larger balcony at the front of the house that I doubt we'll ever use - I mean, I don't really want to be lounging out there in full view of every passerby!

I like the mailbox - some kind of stone treatment; though it looks a bit modern compared to the house.

We elected to have 600mm eaves for our Chateau facade, as it looks much better with eaves, and also provides better shading in summer. Of course, any options will cost you, and the big eaves were around $3000.

Another Manor facade, looks like the same kind of floorplan going by the facade windows. Take a look at this mailbox too - not as modern as the other one, blends in much better with the house I think. Now this house is sited on a corner block - some people like corner blocks, others don't. Personally, I'm not keen on corners, because the side of the house is too exposed - people walking/driving by can see into the house, unless you keep the blinds/curtains closed all the time, which is a bit of a pity. However, if there's a good view to be had from this side of the house, maybe a tradeoff worth making. From an investment perspective - undeveloped corner blocks are good potential targets for subdivision and redevelopment to dual occupancy.

As with most builders, Metricon offer a variety of facades. Cheapest ones are usually Traditional and/or Manor, with the most expensive being the Vogue/Contemporary (and I'm not sure whether the facade options include render or not - make sure to make your own enquiries about that!). Also, be aware that different facades will also change the size of your house! Our Nolan 41 is 41 squares (inc garage) with the traditional facade, but once we changed to the Chateau facade, it becomes around 43sq because the master bedroom has an extended retreat area and wider balcony. I guess this goes some way to justifying the increased price of the facade (something like $8-10k more than standard?)

In addition, our facade has a feature cladding to the first floor master bedroom (instead of brickwork). We love the look of this, but be aware that it will require more maintenance than brick - something like repainting every 10 years or so, which isn't a big deal to us. Also, we've heard reports that the cladding doesn't insulate quite as well as brick (no real surprise there) so potentially cooler in winter, warmer in summer. Of course, this area will still have R2 wall insulation all around.

And finally, this will (probably) be the last post for about 10 days as we're off to NZ tomorrow morning, to try and take a little holiday before the building starts. sarahV: hope they finish your house soon, and Renee&Tom, good luck with your selections! Go in with an open mind and open chequebook :)

T&T

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 13: Back to work on the house; toilet and cage delivered

No doubt people who decide to build a house are perhaps the craziest people of all - especially those who decide to blog, or join homeone forums, or whatever. Because who else would drive up to a bare block of land (except for the weeds and miscellaneous rubbish) and find their heart racing at the sight of a temporary toilet and wire cage for rubbish?



I don't think this really signifies the restart of building works for 2010 though, as it's a separate subcontractor's job to deliver the toilet & rubbish cage. In a way, I don't want too much done before Jan 18, as we're off on a short trip to NZ this week, and I don't want to miss any further exciting developments - such as a fabulous trench for plumbing, or a once-in-a-lifetime meter box erection.

Ha, I wrote erection in a blog, and (almost) didn't laugh [cue Peter Griffin "heh heh heh heh...]


Hope everyone is all worked up about the restart of building activities for 2010 though - this should be a great year!

And for a final bonus pic, yesterday we went to the Metricon Keysborough display centre to check out the new double storey design the Sycamore. 45sq, all bedroom have ensuites, about $330,000 with Contemporary facade finish. Didn't appeal to us (too many ensuites and not enough home theatres - ie no home theatre!) but I thought the Fairhaven 33 display home had a great floorplan for a single storey house.

This pic is of the living area of the Lindrum 58 - a truly massive house, with a massive pricetag on upgrades on everything! Beautiful clean and modern lines - a monochrome colour pallete gives an ultramodern look to this living area. Great for a display home, but as a house for living, probably needs a bit more color :)


Thanks for everyone who left a comment on the last blog entry, always appreciated :) Sarah V - I wish Metricon Vic worked as fast as in Sydney - but I thin because they build a whole lot more houses in Melb, I doubt we'd have our house in 5 months! Apparently Metricon did about 1800 houses in 2008, not sure how many in 2009, but Australia's largest volume builder anyway. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing - probably a little of both!

T&T

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

Now this is what pisses me off - I spent 5 minutes writing a rant about how the government is wasting $1,350,000,000 of taxpayers money on a rubbish ticketing system that doesn't work, and it disappeared from my screen! Believe me, it was a well written and very pointed piece about corruption in Australian politics, but I can't recreate it now. Bah. Google, fix Blogger!!

Anyway, the point was, Happy New Year or something like that; and because this blog is about building houses not bitching about politicians (they rise to the top, like a decomposing body after a week in a stream), here's a couple of Metricon Nolan related posts for your continued enjoyment.

Remember this Nolan I was writing about, in Dec 09?



I was reading through the Section32s (which I had ingeniously photographed using my iPhone), and the build permit for this Nolan was only approved in mid-April 2009. And seeing as it was all wrapped up and sold by December 19, that puts the build time at approximately 8 months, which is a lot better than our quoted 370 days! Now I'm not trying to get our hopes up - if our Nolan could be done in 8 months (ie Aug 2010) that would be beyond awesome! But like I said before, not getting our hopes up.

To finish off this New Years' Day blog post, I found that someone put a video on Youtube walking through the original Nolan display home in Point Cook, which shut down I think end of 2008? This is the ugly Nolan that features on the M website, complete with moose head and horrible green walls everywhere. Anyway, we didn't get to walk through this Nolan (there's a new big Nolon display house in Point Cook, but it's one that has the usual $200,000 worth of options including ensuites to every room). Click on the vid below - enjoy!

T&T


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